Thursday, January 31, 2013

throwing copper to hide the brass

hi there

well, this is one of those more, if only slightly, serious blog posts i do from time to time, so if you have no interest and feel that these are not the droids you are looking for, please move along.

there was some genuine excitement on this "transfer deadline day" about the news that David Beckham had signed on to play for Paris Saint-Germain. the excitement was partially due to the fact that no longer was English football in France represented by Joey "reformed" Barton, but mostly because all of the money that the club were to pay Mr Beckham for 5 months worth of football - reported to be about £3,000,000.00 - would be going to an unspecified childrens' charity.

initially, applause all around, especially of course for Mr Beckham.

a bit of a zut alors! about it, though, sadly.  i almost certain that the owners of and indeed PR machine for PSG are horrified and the surely co-incidental fact that this announcement came just as some very serious questions are being asked about the ownership of the club. there is of course no way that anyone in the press is suggesting that throwing an unspecified amount of money at an unspecified charity is intended as some sort of distraction.

no fooball club, you would think, would dare try to distract from serious financial problems and ensure 100% good press across the world by hiding behind how much good they do for a childrens' charity.

if for some horrible reason the shenanigans at PSG turn out not to be a horrible co-incidence, then i really hope that Beckham has been well and truly duped here. i mean, there are certain footballers who you could be pretty sure would not need to be asked twice to be involved in some sort of self-promoting happy co-incidence like this all might be, but Beckham wouldn't be on that list. Beckham was rather proud of his England captaincy, after all, and didn't get stripped of it. twice.

it will on the whole be very interesting indeed to see how this one pans out. ideally, it will turn out that this is indeed as honest and good a straightforward gesture as it seems on face value, with PSG presumably banking on the fact that Beckham being associated with the club will raise their international profile. the beautiful game, however, has had a history of some rather less beautiful incidents.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Farouk you, Ameen well.

hello there

well, obligatory apologies for the usual delay in or straightforward lack of updates here of late. it has just been super duper busy, both at home and at verk. in regards of the latter, we were at least honoured to have a most distinguished visitor during the week.

ladies and gents, with particular emphasis on the gentry, please behold the alive, well, armed and fully operational Farouk Ameen!

it has been a fair while, obviously too long, since i had the pleasure of being within intimate and close distance of Mr Ameen. oh, the tales i could tell you of the legion of young men who flocked to admire and indeed inspect his fine rug, but this site tries to be a suitable for all affair.

Mr Ameen once gave me one of the greatest gifts ever, a CD of the fine album Remain In Light by Talking Heads. it is a frequently played disc, and hearing it allows me to think of this fine chap.

hope all is well with you wherever you are in the world, dear reader!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

the start of the end for the 3D novelty?

hi there

it's no secret that i am anti-3D, so yes this is going to be a biased point. you have, as it were, been warned!

the signs are there that these 3D shenanigans are at last coming to an end. and there can surely be no more an impressive or explicit sign of this than the decision to "postpone" the release of the remainder of the Star Wars films in this trivial format.

the intention was to re-release the Star Wars films in Episode sequence over six years, starting with The Phantom Menace in 2012. this was changed so that Episodes II and III would be released within a month or so of each other in 2013. now, going on the official statement, that's not going to happen :

Given the recent development that we are moving forward with a new Star Wars trilogy, we will now focus 100 percent of our efforts on Star Wars: Episode VII in order to ensure the best possible experience for our fans. We will post further information about our 3D release plans at a later date.

hmn. projects postponed in the film industry very rarely get heard of again. i am pretty sure that this will be the case here.

The Phantom Menace re-released in 3D managed an impressive $22 million opening weekend, but alas the final figure at the box office was $43 million in total. even allowing for the fact that this film is the least fondly thought of from the series, that does not scream out that the other re-issues would be a huge success.

that they are claiming to be rather placing focus on Star Wars Episode VII is interesting. with the release date for at least Episode II being 2013 all along, surely they would have in fact already done a hell of a lot of work on the conversion? and, with interest in Star Wars being higher than usual right now, wouldn't it have been quite a marketing dream to get the original films back in the cinema and raking in cash?

i suspect that the film studios are starting to accept that the average cinema goer wants little to do with 3D. Avatar was a monumental fluke, with the novelty factor of it ramping up the box office take far more than anything in the film warranted.

well, that's my thinking on it. the sooner Scorsese and Scott can go back to proper film making without messing about with this format the better, i say!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ricky Gervais fans in Durban......


sorry, no idea why it comes up sideways, i went and edited it and everything!

many thanks to Richard for sending the pic!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

the special kind of dickhead celebrates victory in 2-2 draw

hello there

well, it's too funny not to is the answer to your question. if i do not like this extra special kind of dick head, why bother wasting precious yet plentiful bytes of the internet on him? he is just a constant source of amusement and a joy to take the proverbial out of sometimes. like, for instance, today, when he was pictured celebrating "winning" a 2-2 draw against the much feared side of Brentford.

his celebrations, as you can see, nearly equal his joy at guiding his side, if in his own mind if not on the pitch, to glory in the Champions League.

nice one John. being down once to Brentford normally sees sides hang their head in depression, resigned to the fact that they are about to get caned. to be down twice to them and come back on each instance to snatch a victorious draw is something few sides have ever done.

it is not all the special kind of dick head that saw them clutch this celebrated draw, a draw which a DVD of shall no doubt be available soon. it was of course, as Captain Dick will no doubt mention eventually, a late goal from El Matador himself that saw, from a certain perspective, victory on the day.

young Fernando is going from strength to strength these days. he must surely now be the greatest striker in the history of the club? well, OK, maybe not, but surely he has to be named as their "best ever Spanish striker that scores vital goals against non-Premier League sides whose name begins with the letter B". first Barcelona, now Brentford. there must be a sense of relief at Basingstoke and Bath that they will not face the Spaniard this season, and Bradford must be thrilled to have rather got Aston Villa in the League Cup.

should they manage to win the replay, two things will be interesting. first, just how will Captain Dick celebrate that, i wonder. secondly, looking at the draw, they can expect to be knocked out in the next round.

anyone reading this living in London (innit) may want to be prepared for unscheduled traffic problems - no doubt when the lads return from this fixture they will set about planning some sort of impromptu parade.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

medical molestation with Stefan

hi there

believe it or not, i do start every month and indeed every year wondering exactly what it is i will find to update this blog with. i really should not stress all that much as something always happens and indeed something always turns up. like, for instance, the incredible sense of pain i experienced on Tuesday, my self diagnosis and the subsequent healing technique applied by my unofficial medical consultant. let me take you on the long, hopefully interesting journey that led me to the experience of medical molestation off of Stefan.

on Tuesday of this week, specifically the afternoon, i felt a sudden surge of pain. it was limited to my left upper arm and shoulder, with a touch of it present in my neck. i was quitely confident that this was probably a result of my lunch choices for the week up until that point causing some indigestion, heartburn and the like.

to illustrate, via the magic of my blueberry phone, here is lunch from Monday....

....and this would be the lunch i had on Tuesday......

now, the medical benefits of KFC are grand without question. it is the food, after all, that is the choice of The King, Elvis Presley, and why would he eat something that was bad for him? that said, twice in two days might have been a bit much for my arteries and that. 

i recalled from my vast medical knowledge, that being all comments made by The Man In The Pub, Britain's Most Ill-Informed Columnist in Viz, that sometimes pains in the left-hand side of your body could be a sign of one of them stroke or heart attack things looming. with this being the case i decided to sleep on the matter and vowed that in the morning i would drop my unofficial medical advisor a mail to see if he had any thoughts on the subject. 

it came to pass, then, that on Wednesday i did indeed drop young Stefan a mail, giving him a broad outline of the problem and mentioned the stroke or heart attack warning sign thing. his advice was swift, indicating that it was "most unusual" for someone about to have a heart attack or stroke to be able to get away with the symptoms for 24 hours and then mail someone about it. nonetheless, he did agree to pop up and see what the story was, to see if he couldn't get whatever was wrong mended.

yes, for some peculiar reason my dear friend Khanyisile decided to join in with the medical attention thing. for some reason she thought standing in front of me might help sort it all out.

that, too, is also me offering Stefan a cigarette. we have a bit of an agreement in regards of cigarettes, really. if Stefan agrees to find reasons for any of my ills that do not feature suggesting that cigarettes might not be helping then i agree to do something that does not involve punching him in the face. it has thus far been a healthy and good working agreement. it is Stefan's outlandish ideas and wild claims that smoking might be bad for you which prevent him, alas, from ever taking the title of being my offical medical advisor. did Tom Hagen ever turn to Don Vito and say "we should not do this, it is illegal"? no, he found a way around it. Stefan must learn this kind of thinking before he can be an official part of my entourage.

on that note, other than my rubbish blueberry pictures, you may be pleased to note that the pictures here were taken by both my personal photographer, Trigger, and my chief mechanic, Jayson. it is good to see that Jayson is expanding the scope of what he does in my entourage a bit.

moving on, and as any good medical practicioner would do, Stefan first calculated and worked out of my shoulders exactly which was the left one that was so troublesome.

with that established, he soon determined that the muscles in the shoulder were somewhat trapped and in general totally knackered. he thus decided that the best way to fix it was to batter the flipping heck out of it with some good, solid molestation. the application of some of that voltaren gel made it perfectly legit medical molestation, though. so Stefan tells me.

he did seem to be rather enjoying it, though.

that is quite a smile Stefan has on his face as he is doing this, isn't it? i must say i have not endured any sort of physical assault like this in the work place since my dear friend Fraser left. it should, however, be made clear that the assualts Fraser made were seldom for beneficial medical purposes. it was rather more along the lines of "prison shower style" resolving of problems in its approach, although he never got around to saying exactly what the problem was. 

my, Stefan really does look like he enjoys doing this sort of thing, does he not? looking at the above, i think he would look really good with one of those pencil thin, adult film star style "sex moustache" things. i will suggest it to him in the morning, or perhaps he will read this and grow one anyway.

the happy ending, so to speak, to all of this is that Stefan left my left shoulder bits feeling much, much better and appears to have removed the potential threat of one of them stroke or heart attack things.

good work, Stefan!

my shoulder is pretty much fine now, bar the odd twinge when i sneeze or every now and then reach for a cigarette. it is, with thanks to Stefan and his efforts, rather bearable pain, something that one can work around with relative ease.

i have given Stefan full permission to use these images in any sort of textbook he decides to publish, and indeed agreed to let him include uncensored versions of these pictures on his CV if he believes it will be beneficial.

should there be any need to, and by that i imagine something feels a bit like something that The Man In The Pub out of Viz mentioned, i will drop Stefan a mail in regards of future medical issues and do my best to give an account of the ways in which he uses it as an excuse to touch me up here.

many thanks for reading.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

6 random acts of kindness from the world of rock

hi there

the music industry is somewhat notorious for being "cut throat". if you've read Brian Nash's superb autobiography Nasher Says Relax, or read about any court case by any artist that finally got fed up of Sony you will know what i am talking about. every now and then, though, musicians and indeed record labels, by either default or design, get to do something most splendid for another musician or band.

i'm not talking about the numerous charity records and concerts held over the years of a range of good causes. i speak only of actions taken that have seen one artist get a tremendous boost. as suggested, sometimes this happens by accident, and no doubt in most cases the giver has gotten something out of it. the recipient, though, in all these instances has got the better deal.

who better to start with than arguably the most prolific sitter on quality songs of all time?

Prince "Likes" The Bangles

Prince is one of the most prolific songwriters in the history of pop music. estimates have it that for every one song officially released, another two sit in the vault. every now and then some of these tracks manage to leak out into the world (previously at record fairs; now on the internet) but every once in a while he feels of a mind to let someone else run with the song. such was the case with Manic Monday.

Prince recorded a version of his composition in the mid-80s with every intention of releasing it. he, for reasons never given (for he is Prince), pulled it at the last minute and that was likely to be that. a couple of years later, though, he became aware of an all girl group called The Bangles and decided to offer them the chance to record it.

why Prince offered the song to them is subject to some debate. the normal, most likely answer is that he really liked their debut album, and felt that they perhaps had the best sound and vibe to deliver the song, it having a distinctly feminine tone to the narration. others, perhaps more besotted with his private life than his music career, argue that he offered it to them in the hope of sleeping with at least one of them. in regards of the latter, come on - this was mid-80s Prince! he didn't have to go to the length of giving songs to women to encourage them to spend the night at Paisley Park or to seduce them, "hello I am Prince" normally did the trick.

for whatever reason he gave it, it's good that he did. bootlegs suggest that Prince's version would have been awarded less than classic status, whereas The Bangles made it a huge hit. it would be unfair to them to suggest that Prince "gave" them a career, but his song certainly gave them rather more attention than they were getting at the time.

oh, and if you are wondering why Sinead O'Connor and Nothing Compares 2 U does not feature here,  it's because that was a rather more straightforward cover version. Prince never released it, you say? seek out an album from around 1985 called and credited to The Family. there's the somewhat underwhelming original version.

David Bowie Thinks The World Of Mott The Hoople

any number of musicians could speak for hours about the helping hand David Bowie has given them over the years. be they up and coming acts that don't quite make the big time but do get a chance because he's mentioned them in passing or the likes of Lou Reed and Iggy Pop that he's helped out along the way, Bowie's love of promoting the arts in general and music in particular has always been generous. none, though, benefitted from generous patronage quite like Mr Ian Hunter and his band.

the story has always been that Bowie "didn't like" any version of All The Young Dudes that he recorded, and thus decided to give it to Mott The Hoople as he felt they would do a better job. partially true. by the time that Bowie wrote the song he was all to aware of the value of publishing and retaining songs for future use. Ziggy Stardust, for instance, included at least 2 or 3 songs that David had re-worked from earlier recordings to fit in with the glam sound. it's fairly obvious that David really, really liked Mott The Hoople and just wanted them to get a bit of attention from a big hit.

again, it would be unfair to suggest that Bowie "gave" Mott The Hoople a career. he just helped a reasonably successful band score a major hit and get some attention.

just how much Mr Bowie wished to help the boys of Mott is reflected in his efforts to give them another big hit with the song Drive-In Saturday. for some reason, though, the band declined to accept it, leading to genuine disappointment from David. how disappointed? well, according to the VH-1 Storytellers set that Bowie did, he "shaved his eyebrows off" in protest at them not recording it. go figure.

Frankie Said Bruce

this one is highly likely to offend the more extreme defender of The Boss, so all i can say is up front there is no offence or dig intended at an incredible artist who i've followed for close to 30 years. dig that, trolls?

1984 was an incredible year for music. all the more incredible, then, that one band managed to dominate it - Frankie Goes To Hollywood. 3 singles at number one, Two Tribes remaining there for an astonishing nine weeks, and The Power Of Love only denied the Christmas Number One spot by the amazing, well intentioned efforts of Band Aid. whatever it was Frankie had to say, people wanted to hear.

their debut album, the audacious double lp Welcome To The Pleasuredome, set all sorts of records for both a debut release and a double album. at one stage it was estimated that one in every four UK households had a copy of it. this meant that one in four houses in the UK all of a sudden owned a song written by someone who, despite recent and big success in 1984, not all that many people in Britain were all that familiar with. that would be this chap.

Frankie Goes To Hollywood, by covering Bruce Springsteen's Born To Run, managed to accidentally set a whole bunch of teenage pop fans (myself included) off on a voyage of discovery in regards of the delights of ten years' worth of Springsteen records. Born In The USA was all right, but nothing on it said "go and get the rest of his stuff". the Frankie cover did.

it wasn't an easy journey, though. Frankie's cover of Born To Run was a mental, fast thrashed rocker, a song to dance to, jump about and scream along to. you can imagine the confusion when i and many, many other Frankie fans finally heard the original, considerably different version. exactly why Frankie's version was so radically different has been something of a mystery for over 20 years, but the truth as to why they recorded it they way they did was finally revealed in the book Nasher Says Relax. buy it, read it and find out for yourself.

oddly, David Bowie could with ease have done the same for a generation of fans in the 70s. the 90s reissue campaign of his albums included a number of previously unreleased tracks. two of them were Springsteen covers - Growin' Up and It's Hard To Be A Saint In The City. had Mr Bowie released either cover back then, well, who knows? perhaps the UK would have embraced Springsteen on a wider scale long before they got around to doing so.

Billy Idol Hands Simple Minds International Mega-Stardom

my friends and family in the UK are going to be surprised at this, perhaps even going so far to say that the next statement i make is about as truthful as the ingredients sticker on a Tesco beefburger. it happens to be true, though. in the early 80s, the biggest UK music act outside of the UK was William Broad, better known as ex-Generation X member Billy Idol. from Australia, across Africa and all the way to his adopted home in America, Billy was seen as the personification of the very best of UK music. and why not? he had the rebellious streak of The Rolling Stones, a dress sense somewhere between Punk and New Romantic, the charm and appeal of The Beatles, an eloquent, beautiful voice and a seductive personality. it helped that his songs were amazing, too.

when the makers of a film called The Breakfast Club, a brilliant film yet one showing a heavily sanitised variant of "teenage rebellion", were looking for someone to record the specially written theme song, (Don't You) Forget About Me, Billy Idol was the obvious choice.

Billy Idol, for reasons not given to this day, turned down the chance to record it. a signifcant blow for the film makers this was, for sure, as Billy was guaranteed regular play on MTV and thus free advertising was lost. it could, i suppose, have got a lot worse for them if the second person they approached, Bryan Ferry, said yes.

eventually a Scottish band called Simple Minds, popular on the US College Radio scene and bearers of a modest hit with Promised You A Miracle, were approached. they too turned it down. however, Jim Kerr was no Billy Idol or Bryan Ferry, and so with some pressure from their record label (keen to exploit the increasing sales of movie related songs at the time), off they went to record it.

Simple Minds spent exactly three hours in the studio arranging and recording it, and then promptly walked away from it with every intention of disowning the song. things did not quite work out that way.

to say (Don't You) Forget About Me was Simple Minds' biggest hit was an understatement.whilst the film The Breakfast Club wasn't a big hit on release (it would benefit from generations of audiences on home video) the song was, very much so. as in it spent 3 (three) years on the UK top 100. the song, whether they liked it or not (and they didn't - they refused to let it appear on their next studio album, Once Upon A Time, which is what i believe the kids these days call an "epic dick move") gave them worldwide fame an a huge international audience, particularly in America.

these days Simple Minds have come to terms with the fact that their fans love it even if they do not. they had little choice but to include it on greatest hits pacakges and, for the audience at least, it's the highlight of any concert. does Billy regret handing Jim Kerr and his chums success? apparently not, but he did give the world a taste of what his version would have been like with a 2001 recording of it. Billy's version of it is quite frankly amazing, and if released at the time it probably would have cemented him as a major star forever more. it is not, however, the amazing, awe inspiring masterpiece that Simple Minds made without really trying to.

Noel Gallagher Gives U2 Credibility

here in 2013, Noel Gallagher is a dull, sad man, wishing he was much older than he was, wishing he was more respected than he is and forever wishing he had even more money than he does. it was not always the case. back in the mid-90s, when Noel spoke, it was interesting and people tended to follow what he said.

back in 1995, when Noel said anything at all it was front page news. well, it was unless Liam had punched a person of particular importance that day. so when Noel Gallagher namechecked a band, they were instantly cool. a big benefactor of this was Paul Weller. Mr Weller had, wrongly, been derided by music critics who couldn't understand what he was doing with The Style Council and frankly never gave his solo stuff a chance. Noel Gallagher mentions how class Paul Weller is and all of a sudden the music press were falling over themselves to show how much they really worshipped Paul too.

in 1995, Noel in an attempt to massage his own ego, did the same favour for Pope Bono and his happy band.

August 1995 saw the last true chart battle - something i have written about before, if you wish to search my blog for it. it was Blur vs Oasis, the two biggest bands in the UK, and both happened to have a single out in the same week. Blur "won" the battle, scoring a number one single with Oasis at number two, but it's fair to say, measured in sales, Oasis would eventually win the war.

not that Noel was at war with Blur. well, except for "wishing they got AIDS and died", i suppose. according to Noel, Blur were no competition for Oasis at all. Oasis were, in his wise words, only threatened by REM and U2 in regards of being called "the biggest band in the world".

leaving aside REM, it was interesting that Noel said that U2 were "one" of the biggest bands in the world at the time. why? well, they had not released anything for 2 years at the time, and it would be another 2 years before they did do (the dire Pop album). Oasis, selling one record every four seconds to "the kids", were basically saying "well, U2 are bigger than us". that would inevitably lead to people not normally interested in U2 all of a sudden seeking out who exactly Mr Ego was rating higher than himself.

let's make no mistake here - U2's success stems from an incredibly talented singer and songwriter, one of the best bass players in the world not to be called Mani, a drummer with an amazing technique and a predictable, pedestrian guitarist who looks kind of cute on stage, in particular when he wears a beanie hat. the biggest band of the time suggesting that you were bigger than them, though, kept you in the news. i trust Pope Bono, when not healing lepers, took the time to buy Noel a pint and a mirror.

Lindsey Buckingham Saves Fleetwood Mac. Again.

the last one on this list is a biggie. it's arguably the single greatest act of generosity in music history ever, and starts some 12 years before the gift was given.

Lindsey Buckingham could have been like any number of singer, guitar player and songwriters of the 70s - vastly talented, celebrated but ultimately never sold as many records as they should have. he could have resided in the same eltie group as the likes of Warren Zevon, Jess Roden and Harry Nilsson. he was "saved", however, by joining Fleetwood Mac, along with his partner Stevie Nicks. it's also the case, of course, that he pretty much saved the band with his contribution. without him (as well as the cocaine and the rampant inter-band f*****g) there would have been no Rumours. just think for a moment how awful the world would be without that record. and, indeed, how less pretty it would be without Lindsey's excellent hair and shirts from that era.

as is so often the case, the greatest success of Fleetwood Mac came to be their biggest burden, and few in the band felt it as much as Lindsey. the fans and the record label wanted more of the same; Buckingham wanted to use the success as a freedom to explore other music and unleash more creative music than he did commercial.

Lindsey tried to keep a bit of a balance between the two, opting to agree to make a more commercial sound with Fleetwood Mac and go off to explore the less commercial sounds in a solo career. this would work if the rest of Fleetwood Mac actively worked with Lindsey on Fleetwood Mac albums and didn't spend their time consuming vast quantities of cocaine and pondering over which band member to sleep with next.

that arrangement did not quite work out as well as it could have. to this day the speculation is that the early 80s Fleetwood Mac album Mirage consisted mostly of songs that Lindsey intended to release as a solo album. in the face of the fact that his solo albums did not sell too well and that Fleetwood Mac was a name that sold, the record label put pressure on him to sacrifice his commercial sounding solo ideas for the good of the band.

what was speculated about in the early 80s about Mirage was undeniable fact by the time of the 1987 album, Tango In The Night.

by the mid-80s, Fleetwood Mac were dangerously close to being dead. all of the money that the band had made appeared to reside with Colombian (ahem) cocoa plant exporters and dubious property developers who had impressed Mick Fleetwood. Lindsey Buckingham, presumably tired of hearing "look at these magic beans i bought" and "guess who i slept with this time", was off on another crack at a solo project. he was armed with a number of commercial, radio friendly songs with one in particular, Big Love, clearly sounding like it would be a big, big hit.

at this time, though, Fleetwood Mac were expected to deliver a new studio album. an album that they were in no particular fit state or mind to do. yet again, then, Lindsey Buckingham was faced with a choice. if he went ahead with his new material as a solo album he would no doubt have at last got the commercial success and recognition his talent deserved. if he did so, though, it would to all intents and purposes have been at the cost of the death of the band Fleetwood Mac. in an astonishing act of generosity, then, Lindsey Buckingham did what he felt he had no choice but to do - he took his solo recordings, worked in the best of what the rest of the band had produced and delivered to the band their second biggest selling album of all time, Tango In The Night.

the band, unsurprisingly, were well aware of the fact that it was Lindsey who had thrown them a lifelife. the first few editions of the album pressed were practically covered in messages of thanks and praise for Lindsey Buckingham. i note some of those messages have disappeared on latter re-issues, but the large stack of credits they gave him still remain. just look at this list of credits. 

produced, arrange and engineered by Lindsey Buckingham no less, with a credit for "cover concept" too. the praise and gratitude were not quite enough, though, and Lindsey quit the band not long after the album was released. interestingly it was just before the band were due to go on tour with the record - perhaps the idea of the band performing songs he knew he could have been celebrated alone for on stage was just too much. which is, in artistic terms, fair enough. the lure of Fleetwood Mac was something that Lindsey could not defeat, however, as shown in the details of their imminent tour.

well, there you have it. rock stars can indeed be nice to each other, even when there is no charity involved or no court order to do so in place. many thanks for reading!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

life hacks. blimey.

hi there

just a quick-ish post to direct your attention to this link that a dear chum shared over on the grand social network. it is in your best interests to click on it!

let me go and take some of my Dad's love bead toothpaste to my car, see what happens.......

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

cowboy under siege

Hi there

on special occasions i like to seek out and buy excellent sounding new books for my dear mother-in-law, Monica. she has an impressive love of reading, and i have an impressive love of finding interesting sounding books for her. quite a good match, i suppose!

this Christmas just gone was no exception. i had a good dig around for books and was truly delighted to find a book with this impressive title!

how could a book with such an excellent title as Cowboy Under Siege be anything but epic and mega? if you have asked yourself that, then of course you have your answer in the form of no, it could not be anything at all but epic and mega.

i did have some hopes that it might turn out to be some sort of heterosexual variant of Brokeback Mountain to appease that place known as "middle America". i did not, however, act on that hope to the extent of actually reading it myself, instead giving it to Monica for Christmas and asking for her to please send on a review.

Monica was delighted to get the book, and agreed to send on a review as soon as she had read. this has now been done, and so in a rare case of me handing over a chunk of this blog to someone else, here's Monica's review of the book! you are warned, however, as it seems to contain lots of the plot, so a *** BIG MASSIVE SPOILER WARNING  *** is in place!

Cowboy -Rich-vast ranch -millions. Father a senator in USA senator in the government. Scandal with infidelity breaks out about the father.  He hides on son's ranch. People kidnap sister to flush out the senator. The  foreman (American Indian) of the ranch gets injured. Daughter of foreman comes to look after father. She is half American Indian and old love. Totally misunderstanding about their initial love. She left because his ranch came first, he let her go to improve her self. Someone cuts the fence and lets some of his cattle run into a snow bound mountain He has to get his cattle ready for shipping to abattoir. They also incapacitated the foreman and shot his cattle.

The long lost love (daughter) gets into gear and helps him as her father is incapacitated. She has left a research job to assist and gets accused of negligence as one of her research patients died after she left her job. She gets suspended.

Someone keeps cancelling his trucks to get the cattle to the abattoir for slaughter. He eventually gets trucks to take the cattle. Not after a fraught  (there were crooks waiting for the cowboy and lost love and they managed to escape in the mountains and get the cattle-wow very exciting) excursion into the mountains to retrieve the missing cattle.

The father had joined a secret society and he found out that they had a plot to kill the president of USA, so he resigned and now they are coming after the father. Hence the SIEGE! Some likable ranch hand is to blame.

She  find out that the professor she worked for had taken a terminally ill patient to meet his quota for testing of a new drug. He never tested her and when she died he framed her as she was not there. He attacks her and the cowboy saves her! True love!!!!!!!!

wow, what can i say but thank you very much for the review, and i am glad to hear that it was as excellent as it seemed! it would appear that it is a very busy book indeed.

it must have been really good, as Monica is now asking for a sequel, or more of the same. as it turns out there are quite a few books like this one, as in featuring the same characters (i think). if you visit Gail Barrett's website you will see there are a number of books (well, 6) that seem to form the tale of the cowboy in this book. you will notice also, should you click on that link, that Cowboy Under Siege appears to have won a great many awards too.

happy reading if you go ahead and seek out this book!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

it's a trap!

hey there

William, like many children in general and his brother in particular, has developed a love of all the shows and films that bear the name Scooby Doo. well, who doesn't like a bit of Scooby? oddly, though, William's favourite character is not Scooby himself.

instead, William is rather impressed with the lad Fred.

why exactly Fred, you may ask? well, Fred has a penchant for building traps, you see. William is, as he gets older and wiser, clearly destined to be one of the tinkerers in this world. i think the idea that people would celebrate you for creating elaborate traps to catch property developers with a proclivity for both abandoned amusement parks and dressing up as a ghost appeals to the young lad a very great deal.

to that end, via the magic of the sorry excuse for a poor camera on my blueberry phone, here is the trap that William decided to build in the doorway to my study today!

sorry that the picture is of an awful quality. to explain the above, that's a piece of string, tied at one end to an ironing board and at the other the backside of a toy red t-rex, with the dinosaur shoved in my DVD stand (no, i have no idea what he has done with the DVDs that he took out to put the dinosaur there). in front of the string, for reasons i am unsure of, is an umbrella.

considering William's young age this is a most impressive and elaborate construction! the enthusiasm and skill with which he built it, alas, is not quite matched in the effective stakes. here is James bypassing the trap with, i have to say, some considerable ease.

if i hadn't been told it was there, mind, i dare say i would have tumbled over it. i think we are however going to have to tell William that his trap worked a right treat, and was brilliant. if not, i fear it will just drive him on to construct more elaborate and ruthless in their execution traps for us all.

i suspect it will be quite some time, going on his reaction to Fred in Scooby-Doo, before i allow William to watch the joys of the Pink Panther films. with traps like these already being built, can you imagine what our lives will be like when he gets to see what Cato does?

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

just in case the 5 billion pics of snow already on the internet are not enough......

hi there

well, the title of this post has warned you, let it be said! with the popularity of social media it seems everyone living where there's presently some snow has taken many pictures and shared them across the networks. this is particularly true, it seems, of iTwat and InstaTwat enthusiasts, who appear to believe that they have taken the first images of snow and no one has ever seen the stuff before. thanks for that.

that said, i was absolutely thrilled when Uncle Trevor sent a few pictures of what home looks like with its present blanket of snow. nice one Trev, many thanks!

Trev always sends some high quality, large file size pictures on to us, which Dad loves in particular. he has, however, outdone himself with these great shots!

for those of us born into a world where snow is a regular, or if you will annual, thing, it tends to be a strange relationship. on a practical front it is of course awful - travels in any sort of vehicle are difficult, whereas travel by foot leaves you soaked and frozen. there is, however, something so very reassuring about its presence, like it's the way of the world, and it does look beautiful. especially from a distance.

i am somewhat baffled, though, by the reports coming out of England at the moment. sure, the snow is heavy, but we've seen heavier, and i don't quite understand why all of a sudden the stuff is making things come to a stand still. it never used to, with us all just getting on with it, and it's not like you don't know it will be coming along at some point between November and February, so why all of a sudden does no one plan for it?

as i said before, looking at the picture above and below, it is strange and wonderful stuff, and does tend to let beautiful places like home look all the more stunning! 

many thanks again to Uncle Trevor for sending these along! hopefully you are well prepared for it and have been going around doing the usual Uncle Trevor things!

as it's likely that friends and family in England shall be reading this, well, i shall not bore you with the details of the most impressive heatwave we've had here this last week........

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

the death of hmv......

hi there

well, if we are honest, the world really does not need one more word written about the apparent demise of the hmv music stores in the UK. mountains of text are spread far and wide across the internet about it and in truth everything that could be said probably has been said.

for the more regular readers who know me outside of the internet, however, there would be something amiss if i didn't comment on this, for my love of hmv is a thing on record. at least, i suppose, it was.

to begin with, the hmv is not quite dead yet. it's in administration and it looks rather bleak, but there's a lot of interest in saving the stores. whereas i doubt the UK Government will step in directly, for they did not with other retail stores like Woolworths, it is unlikely that they will be able to sustain the loss of some 5,000 jobs without criticism. there will be some more on this later, but their closure of the "jersey tax loophole", which allowed certain online stores to drastically undercut hmv's on the shelf price, was recently closed. if it had been closed a fair few years ago then who knows, it might have helped both hmv and other stores. that said, hmv to a degree benefitted from that nice little tax arrangement.

music and film producers will certainly have an interest in seeing hmv survive too. the sale of physical CDs and DVDs still, if only by a year-on-year decreasing margin, exceed "digital" sales. this makes the industry happy as the profits are higher, and you would have to imagine that Mr Warner Bros and Mr Sony would like to keep that flow of income.

pictures make this blog pretty, so a break if you will to show my most beloved hmv. this is the store where it originally was in Middlesbrough in 1985, before it moved to bigger premises inside the Cleveland Centre at some point duing the 90s.

the store you see above, fact fans, was opened by no less than Brian "Nasher" Nash and Paul Rutherford of Frankie Goes To Hollywood!

since the picture takes us that way, let us tackle the nostalgia outbreak around hmv. in the 80s, for me and music lovers of my age, it was the place to be on a Saturday morning. i would head into town on the bus with my money from doing a paper round and get either the latest vibes or a "classic" record that i'd heard about and wanted to get.

the place was always buzzing, regularly packed to capacity. a few of my school mates would be in there, which was always good to see.

i can only imagine it carried on like the above all the way to the early 2000s, whether in the original store or the fancy new one. but then things changed a good deal. what's being blamed, the big change, is the internet.

apparently, according to "the industry", the internet has either killed or is busy killing the music industry. whether it is illegal downloads or legal but substantially cheaper than CDs or records downloads, the industry is being killed. the industry states that it is losing billions and cannot survive. this view is an interesting one, and one they have expressed before. 30 odd years ago, as it happens, only then it was about blank cassettes and home taping. if you run a search on my blog you will find a post about a 1982 edition of Rolling Stone magazine with an article along those lines.

the internet has possibly damaged the exisiting business model for the record industry, but to say it has killed or is killing it is pure nonsense. failure to adapt is the fault, as i will discuss. i mean, they were all too keen to adapt to CD, were they not, but not to tapes or the internet. go figure.

this idea that the internet killed physical music sales is pure nonsense. yes, sure, there's a large amount of people that simply loved the idea of getting music for free off a computer. an even larger amount, the music lovers and perhaps most importantly the record collector.

if you take it as a given that those who switched to "all free, all the time music" are the same who would have just taped the charts off the radio or records off friends, then there's the likes of me and many that i know who love their collection. for example, i've tried to obtain every David Bowie release there has been. is it at all likely that i would all of a sudden say "well, here's all the David Bowie releases up until 2001 here in this cabinet". the rest i just keep on this memory stick here, although some are on this CD-R i have scribbled Bowie on"?

we then get to the argument that online stores such as amazon have undercut the prices of discs and the like to such an extent that hmv cannot compete. partially true. they probably could not compete on a price basis, but they can trump that with the experience.

the record labels are as much as fault here as hmv or any store. when was the last time you can think of that a fuss was made over an album release? the last "midnight launch" i can recall of an album was Be Here Now by Oasis. yes, that long ago. it seems that album releases are not celebrated now as they were once before. the record industry seems to have just assumed that no one is bothered and thus neither are they.

hmv did try to take business online, yet made a mess out of it. they could have been the single dominant force in worldwide sales online, but for some reason (possibly greed) they threw that away. how so? well, up to 6 or so years ago, ordering off hmv was excellent. to courier a package anywhere in the world they charged £15.00, and delivery was usually with 3-4 days. i then used to, every 2 - 3 months, put in an order of well over £100, getting the releases i wanted. then for some reason they opted to change their supplier for shipping, and all of a sudden the courier fee went up to £37.50 per item! that was, sadly, myself and hmv finished.

the could of course have retained the business of me and many others if they had used the infamous "Jersey tax loophole" properly. whereas places like amazon remove the VAT amount for overseas orders, hmv, despite shipping from Jersey, never did. i am not qualified enough to say if this was ethical or not, but i leave you to draw a conclusion.

around the time of the release of their horrid No Line On The Horizon album, Pope Bono of U2 declared that "only teenage girls and really, really honest people still pay for music". this is either untrue, or speaks of many, many honest people in the world. the lack of products to buy - and i am hearing of how some branches of hmv carried more Dr Dre endorsed headphones at £200 a go than they did albums - and a lack of motivating or inspiring people to discover the love and joy of a record store strike me as more to blame than anything done on the internet.

i really do hope, out of a sense of nostalgia perhaps, that hmv is somehow saved. things like the recent surprise David Bowie release should have people flocking to the record stores for the shared experience, not rushing to a computer to download and then muse about it on forums or blogs like this.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, January 14, 2013

live the dream......

hi there

well, for the most part, it seems that the embargo on all digital media leaving New Zealand is in place still. sure, one or two images sneaked out over Christmas, but that's been it. until now, at the least.

Dad, known as a prolific photographer to say the least and thus must be hurting from the apparent inability to send regular pictures from New Zealand, has forwarded on a few pictures of what one can get up to at Old Grumpy's Gallery these days. what it is you can get up to is the unique chance to live the dream, so long as that dream is to pose for a picture and imagine you are either Dad or someone not too different from him.

yes, that's one of those ace, seaside feature type boards where you stick your head through the hole and pose for a most excellent picture!

pictures taken with those boards are always a good laugh and great to send on to family and friends. you don't need to take my word for it, though - here's Dad posing with it!

as for who devised and built this magnificent thing for my Dad, well, that's shrouded in a bit of mystery i'm afraid. Dad speaks of an unspecified "Geordie mate" who did it all, but apparently he has no name. unless i am very much mistaken, of course, and his name is Mr Geordie Mate.

well, whatever his name happens to be, he's rather talent and here's a picture of him during the early stages of constructing the above.

nice one, Mr Mate!

i am pretty sure that it goes without saying that if you are in the Mount Maunganui region, get yourself over to Old Grumpy's and get a pose done with this display!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

the first twat of the new year

hi there

well, leaving aside for the moment the usual apologies for the delay in updates, today saw the return of the majority of the workforce in this part of the world. this means, of course, that traffic is back up to high volumes on a morning and afternoon.

it also means that when certain drivers do distinctly twatesque things the subsequent traffic jams are a good deal longer in physical length and time.
ladies and gents, we have the first twat of the year causing chaos. whether they ran out of fuel, were too heavy for the incline or are just driving a bad truck doesn't matter, any of those scenarios makes the driver a twat.

that's the truck, just poking out between the trees. i would really love to name and shame this first twat of the year, but alas the signage on the truck is difficult to make out from the distance i am at. Trigger, my personal photographer, had a go at zooming in with his fancy dan camera, but alas he could not make out the name on the door either.

the traffic jam caused was not as bad as it could have been, i suppose, but when one considers that it did not need to be there at all actually it was that bad.

in an ideal world there will not be too many posts of this nature this year. i suspect, sadly, that this will rather turn out to be the first of quite a few.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Trevor's birthday

hi there

well, once again it has to be said, Uncle Trevor has celebrated a birthday that is "close" to 30. with the grand ways of time and space, all things are relative and thus indeed it is the case that his age is close to 30. although, oddly, the cake on display in this picture suggests a slightly different age!

i did ask Andrew to send "numerous" random pictures of celebrating Uncle Trevor. this is the only one i got.

never mind, really, it is fantastic - great to see Gran looking healthy and happy, and indeed Colin, who took me off to see Frankie Goes To Hollywood 26 years ago this very day. when Trevor was, as it happens, celebrating a birthday that was "close" to 30.

many thanks to Andrew for using his unlimited data, uber speed internet to send a quality picture rather than just a large quantity, and we are all delighted to see you had a good birthday celebration, Uncle Trevor!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

David Bowie's birthday gift

hi there

well, talk about surprises! today is David Bowie's birthday. whereas all and sundry had assumed he had retired from music after a serious health scare during the Reality tour nearly 10 years ago, it seems that he hasn't!

Where Are We Now? is the name of the new single, sadly only available via that iTwat thing. at least, though, it is available right now, and the video is up on the official David Bowie site for your pleasure!

as for the new album, here's the tracklisting!

01. The Next Day 3:51
02. Dirty Boys 2:58
03. The Stars (Are Out Tonight) 3:56
04. Love Is Lost 3:57
05. Where Are We Now? 4:08
06. Valentine’s Day 3:01
07. If You Can See Me 3:16
08. I’d Rather Be High 3:53
09. Boss Of Me 4:09
10. Dancing Out In Space 3:24
11. How Does The Grass Grow 4:33
12. (You Will) Set The World On Fire 3:30
13. You Feel So Lonely You Could Die 4:41
14. Heat 4:25

a "deluxe" version will also be available, with three extra tracks :

15. So She 2:31
16. I’ll Take You There 2:44
17. Plan 2:34

beyond that, i am more or less stunned and lost for words. in this day and age it is amazing that anyone can do anything on this scale in secret, all the more amazing since legions of Bowie fans scour the world daily for any and all information as to what he's up to.

since it is also his birthday, i wonder if The King, Elvis Presley will also be announcing a new record today?

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, January 07, 2013

new year new bag

hi there

oh dear, i am not so sure about the title of this post - i may by accident attract the more fashionista type here. not that there's a problem with that - all are very welcome, but they might be a touch disappointed.

after a few weeks at home (and indeed at verk as you saw) it was time for the boys to make their merry way back to daycare. James' "big" school only opens in a week or so, thus he gets to hang with his beloved brother for a bit.

we tend to have fears around taking them back after a break, what with them getting into a routine of having both Mummy and Daddy around. fortunately, however, they both really love school, and so there's rarely if ever an issue with going there!

William was particularly pleased to be going as he had a nice, shiny new bag to show off!

yes, that is the back of it that William is showing off! i tried to get an "action shot" of the boys walking out, but they are on full "happy to pose for the camera" mode at present! i did however manage to persuade William to turn the bag around for the picture - which, as you can see, led to him stopping and staring at the magnificence of it!

yep, these pictures were alas taken with my limited blueberry camera phone thing, so apologies for the rather poor quality. if you can't make it out, that's The Avengers (US version, no bowler hats or kinky boots) on the front. he's rather proud of the bad, and rightly so. one can only hope that this means he will look after it!

i will try and do some proper pics with a proper camera eventually!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!